Speech in Noise part 5: What is the role of Cortex?

Posted by Dr Andrew Simpson on Nov 16, 2020 11:00:41 AM

The role of Cortex is to protect you from information*.

You need protecting from information because neurons are very bad at superposition.

Neurons are strongly nonlinear and operate over a very limited dynamic range. This causes superposed signals to interfere with each other and the result is distortion and corruption. This means information loss. The more superposition there is, the more information is lost.

Your senses deliver a tsunami of superposed information that converges on Cortex. If that tsunami of information were allowed in all at once it would be a really big problem. So, Cortex is a barrier that protects you from information.

However, the traditional role of Cortex is to gather information from the (peripheral) senses and pass it through to your (central) mind. So, how does Cortex both connect you to the outside world through your senses and yet simultaneously protect you from that potentially paralysing tsunami of information? The answer is: attention.

Attention is selective transmission of sensory signals; Attention is anti-superposition. In the next blog, I’ll get into what that means for hearing.

At Chatable, reverse engineering attentional processing in Cortex is what we do.

*As far as I’m aware, this is a new idea introduced here. Please feel free to cite this blog.